Why Some People Succeed (and Others Don’t)

Each year, I have the amazing privilege of helping hundreds of people to change their lives. To achieve amazing health and happiness goals. To create new futures. I am so grateful for the joy I receive in being witness to what people can do with their lives. And I have learned a few things about what separates those who eventually succeed from those who don’t.  As you consider your own goals, here are a few, critical tips from my most successful clients….

They want it. A lot.  They want it more than they want the security blanket of the status quo or repeating the past.  Overall, people who succeed in changing their lives aren’t smarter or luckier than the rest of us. They don’t have easier or simpler lives. They still have kids and pets and in-laws and busy schedules and demanding bosses.  They have fears and troubled relationships and bills to pay and hang-ups from their childhood. But making the change they want doesn’t slot into their To-Do list somewhere between organizing photo albums and cleaning out the garage. It’s at the top. Yes, the top. Above a whole host of errands and should-dos and have-to-dos and things they could choose to feel guilty about. They put themselves first. They stop waiting for time to focus on their goals; they make the time.  They also know that courage isn’t about being fearless; it’s about making something more important than the fear.

They don’t expect it to be easy. For most people, change is hard. Wanting it is easy. Talking about it is easy. Doing it is not.  You have to be willing to keep going on the days that suck.  Those who succeed are not derailed by struggle. But they don’t focus on the hard days, the slip-ups, or the missed opportunities. They don’t worry about how fast or how perfectly they meet their goals. They keep visualizing what they want.  They keep it alive with belief.  They bring some gentleness into their journey and make room for ups and downs along the way.

Babies would never learn to walk if they got overloaded with guilt every time they fell down. I worked for an inspiring manager years ago who said, “Research shows that only one in twenty new ideas ever succeeds in being implemented. So let’s get busy failing! The sooner we start tripping, the sooner we will get to the prize. Stop pre-judging everything. Just get going.”   Indeed. The only real failure is in Not Showing Up.  And giving up because things get a little rough.

They tame the voice in their head. Even in situations where we are truly miserable, there is tremendous inertia in our lives to keep things the same. We all have egos. I think of them as sock puppets. Yours is  that voice in your head streaming a constant litany of commentary, judging, justifying and reinforcing our habits. Blah, blah, blah. In fact, the ego’s job is to keep everything in our lives anchored to our past:  “There’s no way this is going to work. I just don’t have the time. What if I inconvenience someone? What if they talk about me behind my back? I know I’m going to mess it up. See, there I go – failing already; let’s have a cookie.”

Infants try hundreds of times to grab their toes before succeeding the first time.  Hundreds!  Do you think they would ever succeed if their self-talk along the way was,  “See, I’m an idiot. This is never going to work. Why am I even trying?” Attempts to silence the voice tend to make it louder. Instead, make friends with it. Find some humor in it. Give the loudmouth a name. Then choose not to take it seriously. Remember that voice is about keeping you stuck in your past.  That is the ego’s job.

Congratulations to all our wonderful clients who have made deeply impressive changes in their lives. Your persistence and commitment to yourself truly inspire me every day. We can all act to own the life we are living.  And mold it into something truly wonderful. We just have to choose to make it so.

Live on purpose.  Choose to Be well!